International Peace Pilgrimage
Why We Walk!
Hiroshima Survivor
Sumiko Nakamura
Hongo-cho Hiroshima
Pitch Black Rain
   In 1945, I was in grade 6.

   On August 6th, Monday morning, I was attending the first class of the day. Out of the window of the classroom, we saw a bright flash of light, and not even a moment later, we heard a big kaboom that sounded as if several lightning bolts hit the ground at the same time. As we had practiced in the drills, all the students put their padded cotton hood on their heads and went under the desk. Not within a second, we all felt the shockwave. The teacher took us outside to the hill in the back. From the hill, we could see a big cloud forming and a lot of smoke in the direction where we saw the flash.

   About 30 minutes later, senior graders had to escort junior students to home. As a 6 grader, I escorted about 10 junior children. As we were going home on a 3-km road, there were many objects such as metal boards, metal pieces, burnt wood, and fabrics all flying away from the southern sky.

   When we were getting closer to our neighborhood, pitch black rain started to fall hard, with a lot of garbage. In a moment, the river became black, and we could see a lot of fishes floating on their back.

   The children were all excited about the fish and took as much as they could to home. I took a handful of fish to my mother, but she told me that the fish was poisoned and I had to throw them out. I remember going back to the river disappointed to put the fish back in the river. Perhaps 2, 3 hours after the bombing, there were many people coming to the area escaping from the damage of the epicenter. I saw a person hanging burnt skin all around the body, a naked person with the skin so burnt and red, a person who had a little piece of clothing in the front but nothing on the back, a person in a burnt cloth, and women with no cloths on. My mother was trying to help these people by giving away some fabric or towel that they could use. Whey such a horrible thing had to happen? Even in my child's mind, I felt that it had to be the so-called living hell.

   I still feel shiver when I think about these times. Although these people were running away about 10 km of distance, one after another, they all died.

   I had a nice mentor who was grade 7. She passed away on August 13th. When I went to see her when she was still alive, one thing she asked me was water. I was going to give her some water, but people told me not to. She had half of her body burnt, and her face was swollen twice bigger than the usual. Day by day, nothing really helped her to recover, and she was weakening and could not be able to speak at all. 4 days after, the doctor said we could give her anything she wanted, even water. 3 days after that, she died. She had a cute dimple, and she was a bright girl. Around the time she passed away, there were funerals everywhere in the village. Everybody was sad and full of grieving.

   Since then, 60 years has passed. The grad 6 girl is now 70 years old. Nevertheless, whenever I close my eyes in silence, those horrifying memories come back just like they happened yesterday.

   Even without the terrible experience with the nuclear bombing, there were hard times in my personal life. There should be no reason for anybody to have additional hardships in life because of nuclear bombings. I lost my husband in an accident 30 years ago, and I was at a loss having 3 children with me. I also got injured in an accident and hospitalized. But, after all these hardships, I have survived through. 30 years ago, I received government's Medicare package for the victims of the bombing. When I think that I could have been dead 60 years ago, I feel very fortunate to be alive and healthy. And, most importantly, with all respect to the victims who died, I believe that it is the survivors' duty to make sure that there will be peace on this planet.

(Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations)
Address: Gable Bldg. #902, 1-3-5 Shiba Daimon, Minato-ku
Tokyo 105-0012, JAPAN
Phone: +81-3-3438-1897 Fax: +81-3-3431-2113
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